St. John's Chris Obekpa Can Help Draft Stock With Good Game Against Jahlil Okafor | Zagsblog
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Tuesday / September 27.
  • St. John’s Chris Obekpa Can Help Draft Stock With Good Game Against Jahlil Okafor

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    NCAA Basketball: St. John at DePaulChris Obekpa has a golden opportunity in front of him on Sunday.

    The 6-foot-10 St. John’s junior center will go head-to-head with presumed No. 1 draft pick Jahlil Okafor when the Red Storm host No 5 Duke at Madison Square Garden.

    Obekpa, who ranks third in Division 1 with 3.6 blocks per game, has virtually no offensive game but is a defensive force and could cause trouble for the 6-11 Okafor. Obekpa, averaging 7.2 points and 7.8 rebounds, is projected as the No. 48 pick in the Draft by, but could help himself with a strong showing.

    “Of course, any time you play well against the best offensive big man in the NCAA, you’re going to help yourself,” Jonathan Givony of told “He needs to step up on the glass. He’s been inconsistent as a defensive rebounder most of his career and that’s one of St. John’s biggest weaknesses as a team because of how small they are.”

    “Oh, big-time, big-time,” one veteran NBA scout added. “That’s going to help him. A good showing against the perceived No. 1 guy, the consensus No. 1 guy, is really going to help him, there’s no question.”

    It’s also possible Okafor could pump-fake Obekpa into foul trouble and take him out of the game early. UConn’s Amidah Brimah got into early foul trouble against Duke last month, and that hyped matchup never materialized.

    The scout attended St. John’s recent loss at DePaul and said Obekpa “did nothing.” He needs to focus on defense and rebounding.

    “The thing is, like so many of these kids, they don’t really have any offense so in their head playing well is all about offense instead of being the best rebounder on the floor, being a dominant defender,” the scout said. “Every time he steps on the floor he should be the best rebounder, the best defender and no one runs the floor basket-to-basket as well as him. If he did that, the [draft] arrow would zoom up on his behalf. But he hasn’t grasped that. But by not doing it, he’s wasting a special body. He’s got a body made for the NBA. The size, the length, the athleticism. He’s built for the game. The offense is way behind. He doesn’t have the understanding, he doesn’t have the skill set.”

    Photo: USA Today Sport

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.